It seemed guard Anthony Cowan would restore order Tuesday.

A 15-2 Delaware run, followed by missed free throws from Darryl Morsell and Jalen Smith and a Blue Hens 3-pointer, had Maryland men’s basketball sweating in the final minutes of its season opener. But with about a minute left and Cowan at the free throw line, where he shot 84.8 percent as a sophomore, fans could breathe easy.

His first shot was off-line and bounced off the rim, however, and Cowan let his head sink, his arms frozen in the air and Maryland’s lead frozen at three points.

While Cowan drained the second free throw to put his team up by four, the miss was emblematic of his uncharacteristic struggles in the nervy 73-67 win. Just as his ability to draw fouls and contribute on defense showed why he’s considered to be one of the nation’s premier guards, the missteps showed he still has room for improvement.

“I’ve been bragging about Anthony and I jinxed him,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “Just never got himself going tonight.”

[Read more: Maryland men’s basketball opens season with sloppy 73-67 win over Delaware]

Cowan’s 15 points helped Maryland secure a win, but they came on a 4-for-14 night that included some badly missed 3-pointers. So he remained on the floor getting shots up more than an hour after the final whistle.

As a sophomore, Cowan had just four games when he shot as poorly from the field as he did Tuesday. And his 0-for-5 mark from beyond the arc was worse than any from his third team All-Big Ten 2017-18 season.

Yet as was the case so often last year, he was fouled enough to buoy him during his shooting struggles. Cowan was the best player in the Big Ten at getting to the foul line as a sophomore, according to KenPom, and he went 7-for-10 on foul shots Tuesday.

[Read more: Bruno Fernando was a force when he was on the floor, but foul trouble kept him off it]

Cowan also showed why he was named to the All-Big Ten defensive team last year, as he helped the Terps lock down the Delaware guards, who shot 9-for-36 from the field Tuesday.

One thing that did change Tuesday was Cowan’s workload. He played 33 minutes — more than his 31 minutes in last year’s season-opener but less than his 37-minute average on the season — and wasn’t always the team’s primary ball-handler, sharing that duty with freshman Eric Ayala.

“We didn’t really have that [option] last year,” Cowan said at Media Day last month. “It will give players the opportunity to make plays for themselves and for others and really just show what they can do.”

Ayala had a couple of big buckets down the stretch against the Blue Hens, and Smith, a fellow freshman, also made some huge plays, showing the variety of weapons surrounding Cowan this season.

That was helpful on a night like Tuesday, when Cowan’s shot wasn’t falling. Given his competitiveness, his team doesn’t expect he’ll begrudge giving up some of the spotlight to his teammates.

“Anthony’s a dog. He wants to win,” Ayala said at Media Day. “That’s his main thing. … I could play with anybody who wants to win.”

Even on an off-night, Cowan’s explosiveness and drive make him nearly impossible for opponents to shut down completely or score on. That’s how he managed 15 points en route to an opening night win and why one disappointing performance isn’t nearly enough reason to panic.

“That’s the least of my worries — Anthony Cowan,” Turgeon said. “Kid’s a hell of a player.”